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April 13, 2015

MSU Law moot court team crowned national ABA champions

Third-year College of Law students Ashley Chrysler, Crystal Bultje and Ashley Byers won the American Bar Association’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition, the largest moot court competition in the country, topping 202 teams representing 118 ABA-approved law schools.

The team went undefeated through regional rounds in Seattle and national rounds in Chicago with a combined 11-0 record and was named the national champion team over Texas Tech by a final-round panel that included U.S. District Court Judges Edmond Chang, John Darrah, Thomas Durkin and John J. Tharp, Jr. The team was the top seed at the national competition after the preliminary rounds, and Chrysler received an award for ninth-place oralist.

Chrysler and Bultje represented the College of Law as oral advocates arguing both sides of a civil procedure issue involving whether the denial of a motion to dismiss can be appealed after a favorable jury verdict for the plaintiff and the proper standard to review the sufficiency of allegations in a Title VII employment discrimination complaint. All three students contributed to the competition brief, which accounted for one-third of the team’s score in preliminary rounds.

The team was co-coached by Jennifer Copland, assistant professor of clinical law, and Phil Pucillo, lecturer in law, who offered coaching in both skills and substance.

“These students are incredible,” Copland said. “They have consistently excelled both in their coursework and in competition. They displayed maturity and a mastery that is exactly what the College of Law aims to produce. They are incredible representatives of our institution and they will undoubtedly continue to display these outstanding qualities as they continue into practice. I am extremely proud of these three women.”

Pucillo agreed, noting that the team members “have an enormous amount of natural ability. More importantly, they were completely determined to know their issues cold. Round after round, regardless of how well they performed—or how handily they prevailed over their adversaries—they remained committed to correcting even the slightest weaknesses in their understanding of the material or in their ability to present it. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with their commitment to excellence.”

MSU College of Law last reached the finals of the ABA Appellate Advocacy Competition in 2004 and last won the competition in 1993.

By: Colleen Steinman